agoraphobic

An old man with gray mustache
deplores the light when peeking through the green door
of an unmarked bar
on an unmarked, unremarkable city street.
He wears
an argyle sweater vest
that matches nothing, and stands in stark contrast
to the dark pouring out from behind him.

I saw him.

And I saw a 1-800-call-Jesus billboard bus sign
for a quit heroin half way house
sprayed with graffiti.
I saw porcelain hands praying without arms
confined in a windowsill, in front of blinds dusty
with neglect.

I saw all those others
rushing by and those passed out on the benches
that boldly boast: Baltimore, the greatest city in America.

I did nothing but stare.
My heart beating
loud above the sirens;
my palms wet with sweat.

Sip n Bite

While I should be job searching, instead I’ve been reading back through a lot of my old writing. It is an interesting journey. Almost like reading someone else’s diary (were those really my words? did I dream those things or live them or a combination of the two?). For those who don’t know me, I used to be a bit of a “night crawler” … Late nights live music drinks friends who also couldn’t sleep like me… There are many under this category. Here is just one, more to come.

Sip n Bite

Florescent haze on our
two booths with an aisle between
the seats dressed in
that scrappy orange color
famous in diners at 3am.

You breeze
through the door and effortless
slide into the booth across
from our crowded one,
and instantly the waitress
with the long dark ponytail
and chocolate brown sweat suit
divines that you want coffee.

What else
does she know? Does she know
I want to sit over
next to you
and stroke the tan corduroy covering
your legs?

Seems not.
She is dealing with the drunks at the
counter, one a dirty-minded man
in a sweater of wine, whispering
in a public voice
his intentions for her.

Eggs arrive that match
the florescent pale that has seeped
into my eyes and hair.

We nibble on our separate islands
and reminisce the night across the
sullen pale tiles. Our words
make sense in this insipid lighting, at this
domestic breakfast
Rockwell would have understood
had he enjoyed Fells Point as much
as us.

Leaned back, full, I see you freely gaze
at my collarbone in the comfort of your sunglasses.
It sends a shudder
racing through the blues of my veins.

snowed-in

I wrote this today, actually just about 30 seconds ago. I probably should give it time to marinate, time to revise and reflect… but nah, not today. Not with cabin-fever setting in (Baltimore is a wintery sink-hole!)

Snowed-in

With gentle whisperings soft
snow creeps ever higher
Onto windows, doors,
Piles high on cars,
Rooftops, and chairs left outside.

Snow seems to come
From every direction, white
Crystals so light and
Yet how they pile, how
They trap us with every inch.

My mind is covered in
The ceaseless display of how
Many many small things
Can add up to a great power,
Can create an entire alien world.

The Goodbye Party (John Mackey of the Baltimore Colts)

The Goodbye Party

While some were swirling drunk on the dance floor,
Holly cried goodbyes into
empty beer bottles and tipped wine glasses, and
half-eaten cake,
some smeared on her jeans.
She was in disbelief of
such a dreamy move to Key Largo
and
John Mackey of the old Baltimore Colts was
signing autographs.

The song was “Satisfaction” and Ron
clutched and gasped like Jagger back then
and sang it from the floor dirty.
He didn’t care.
He had already slid across it with Coco and Sylvia in a dance
that seemed primitive and animal and
private except for obstinate clothes. We were all watching mouths open.
It was really just another exhibition. He had already swung across the rafters just to make the crowd go “Oooh” like
I imagine all the young girls said when he was
twenty-three.

Holly grabbed the microphone. Over the hip hop,
she cried “Thank you, oh, i love you” to those
still hot jiving on the dance floor, fast and boogie feet,
and holding each other up with hugs and clapping for Holly.
She didn’t think about the move,
only the flashing moment,
the blood bursting in the arteries of her heart from the heat of it.

Ron slow danced alone
and friends thought to steal his keys.
Holly slurred more goodbyes to the scattering crowd of ten.
They would miss her in the morning,
after the hangover and back in the reality of it all.

John yelled “Touchdown”—
his Alzheimer’s making the tavern seem unfamiliar
and the field
much closer and more brilliant.

Benson’s Market (Then and Now)

This morning, decided to explore some Baltimore-themed pieces…. Started with Charles (who I haven’t seen at President/Lombard in a looong time) and working my way down to Benson’s Market on Eastern….The city is constantly on my mind.

Benson’s Market (Then)

Sun glare off the wet pavement, I squint
and can see the wrinkled man,
worn white shoes, making his way
out the door of Benson’s Market on Eastern.
He has a brown bag and a cup of coffee
steaming, just like the Baltimore humidity.

He stands balancing his breakfast and
says words to a woman in a flowered housedress,
gray hair upswept high,
reminding me of a bird house that
used to sit empty in the very back of
our neighbor’s yard, except that one was green.

The light changes
and my tires greet the asphalt like
a quick handshake. The man is in my rearview,
walking up towards Patterson Park.
Another, much older, sits in an outdoor lounge chair,
thin legs crossed, watching him go.

Benson’s Market grows small;
diminishing in view the
blue and white checkered storefront and
a sign that says cordially,
bread eggs milk,
for your convenience, open 7 days.

Ahead of me the pigeons who sleep
soundly above the old Ukrainian Youth Center
have woken up
and flown.

Benson’s Market (Now)

Those must have been ghosts
I saw
When we last spoke.
Because the market blinds
Are torn
And cling to bits of dust and darkness
Like I sometimes do
To my tenuous memories.

No one has entered that door
With a ding
Of welcome in many years.

Who were those men that I saw, with
Their steaming cups of coffee
Their bread,
Their milk?
Who were those women
Talking of birds outside the blue-checkered front
That now
Seems so forlorn?

The streets aren’t quiet and peaceful.
The people sit
Empty waiting for the bus
By the Burger King.

Charles

Charles

A prophet
preaches in front of the scratched
hood of my car.
He is hidden beneath baseball cap,
and a suit of dark wool
too big for his slight bones.
His head is bowed beneath
the weight of a necklace
of trinkets only he understands.
The heat visibly surrounds
his dry and marbled outstretched hands,
but he does not sweat.

He speaks—
prophecies and ancient secrets
that are absolved
into the Baltimore humidity
without
any recompense. Without any
baptized soul
noticing.